School Days and Old Friendships

*TW* suicide attempt, overdose, etc. mentioned briefly. Please do not read if these kind of topics affect you negatively. X

Growing up, I didn’t really struggle with making friends. My primary school was very small, one class per year and (most schools around here had 3+ classes per year) and that meant everybody knew everybody. We spent five days a week together for majority of the year from aged 4 through until 11. All of our parents knew each other and I really liked the little community we had, it felt very safe and very small town-ish, despite the fact that we live in a very busy area just outside of London. So primary school was ok, I wasn’t the most popular girl in the class but I was perfectly ok with my handful of close friends and I didn’t see us losing contact when we all went off to different high schools. But we did. Or I should say I did, I know a lot of the others kept in touch. Most of my class mates went to the high school in the area that is seen as the popular one. A few girls went to different girl’s schools, and four or five of us went to the school that is frowned upon around here. I remember a friends family member asking me where I was going and once I told her, she turned her nose up at me and made a comment about how it was full of pikey’s there. I didn’t like her anyway. 

There was never any doubt about which high school I would go to, my sister and brother were already there and it was the closest school to us. I didn’t even put down a second choice on my forms. As I’ve already said, it’s not the best (or wasn’t when I was there, it’s improved a lot over the years) and going from such a small school to a large high school was difficult. I did make friends, there were about 10 of us who were extremely close throughout year 7 and 8, particularly. My best friend at that point was C. We were in all the same classes and did everything together, in and out of school. Her family became like my own and vice versa. It wasn’t long before we became good friends with another girl, A.S, and we formed a little trio. We had our big group of friends but they all also had closer friends within the group and it seemed to work well.

I could leave the story here and only include my good years but that wouldn’t be a fair portrayal. Up until this point everything was normal. I went on school trips, I spent most of my time out with friends or at someone’s house. I was never as boy crazy as the rest of the group but that didn’t exclude me from boy talk. As you know if you’ve read my other posts, I have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (also known as ME, CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome) and this began in 2010 when I was 13 or 14 (for a more detailed explanation read this post).

When my illness developed, I was at a key point in my teenage years. At that age you are just starting to find who you really are, what you want to do, and all those other important things but for me, everything suddenly paused. I became too ill to attend school full time and never really explained to my friends what was wrong and they didn’t ask much. Maybe they didn’t want to pry, maybe they didn’t care, I’ll never know but I was cut off from that part of my life very quickly. In the beginning I kept in contact with C and A.S via text and Facebook but that was difficult, they were going to parties and getting boyfriends and I was at home in bed or at the hospital seeing my paediatrician. Then came my first overdose. There’s a more detailed story behind that which I will tell but that will be a post in itself. I came home from the hospital and decided to be honest with them. I told them both that I had overdosed and I don’t remember C’s response (it was probably something typical to that age ‘aww, if you need a chat I’m here babe’) but I do remember A.S’s. She said “why did you try to kill yourself?” and I told her that I didn’t, I just needed everything to stop for a while. I don’t think she understood and I don’t blame her (or C) for not knowing what to say, we were 14 and I didn’t even know what was going on and I was the one that had done it.

From age 14 to 16 I did my school work from home. My school were flexible with me and let me reduce my GCSE’s to 4. I only had to sit a few exams, the rest was coursework and essays which were even reduced for me. Throughout those years I probably went into school 8-12 times and those times were only for 1-2 hour periods to attend one lesson or have a one-to-one session with a teacher. On those few occasions I did see my friends and they would try and catch me up to speed but it was useless. By that point we were living opposite lives and I couldn’t relate to them anymore, I appreciated it but they had never made an effort to visit or keep in contact with me so I made the decision as a 16 year old that I wouldn’t attend my prom, leavers assembly, or collect my results to avoid seeing people.

Results day came around in 2012 and my mum collected mine for me. I had passed the 4 subjects I had taken with C grades across the board. I was relieved I wouldn’t have to do any resists and I had the minimum required for when I eventually was ready to attend college. The rest of 2012 and most of 2013 are a blur, most of the time was spent in bed. June 2013 was when everything became too much and I attempted to take my own life. I was found and spent 11 days in intensive care but I made it. Had I been left any longer, I don’t think I would be here right now. The next 10 months were spent in psychiatric units and throughout that time, only three old friends contacted me. Everyone knew what had happened because I didn’t make any effort to hide it and my family didn’t lie about where I was. One of those girls was C and the other two were L and M, I hadn’t spoken to either of them in years. L privately messaged me through twitter and said that although we hadn’t spoken in years she hoped I was ok. It felt very genuine and I really appreciated it. M also messaged me through twitter but it felt like she was digging for information (“why was I in hospital?” “what was wrong with me?” “how long would I be there?”). I ignored her questions, told her I was ill and getting better and she didn’t message again after a final “good, I hope you get better”. C was different. As she had been my closest friend, I had spoken about her in therapy. My therapist thought that it would aid my recovery to write to her and let her know I was ok. I looked at it as an opportunity to either close off that friendship or restart it, so I agreed. I wrote telling her that I was in hospital receiving treatment but I was ok and it had been suggested that I write to her as she had been my best friend for years. My mum posted it through her door and a few days later I got a message through twitter saying (this is copied and pasted from her message):

“Hello Molly!!! I have just read your letter! I don’t know what to say I started to cry!!!! I just wish you could be better babe!! I know you might not see this but I want to write back to your letter but I go away next week and got a lot to do but I will 100000% see you when I’m back”

If our roles were reversed and she had written to me, I would have immediately replied whether I was busy or not. I can’t hold a grudge though, we are both obviously very different people compared to how we were when we were 14 and she’s moved on. When I sent that letter, I hadn’t managed to move on but I have now and see things with a different perspective.

And that brings me to now. I’m finally restarting education having applied for an online course yesterday. My plan is to be back in ‘proper’ college for next September if everything goes to plan. I’ll be 20 by then but it’ll be worth it. I’m aware that this post quickly became about my friendship with C when I had intended to write purely about the schools that I went to and how I coped throughout those years. She was a big part of that time and I guess that’s why a lot of this post has been about her. I hope this is somewhat readable, its 1.46am and I’ve been writing since midnight. I apologize for not posting because I really wanted to be update regularly this year. Come September when the craziness of summer has passed, I promise there will be more ramblings.  I have a list of posts I want to make, it’s just finding the time and energy to write them.

(I also wanted to point out that I refer to other people by letters (C, A, L, etc.) because if anyone I know where to come across this blog, I wouldn’t want it to feel like I’m shaming anyone because that’s not my intention! I know first names are generic anyway and I’m not posting surnames but I feel better using initials!)

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